Since the day Sanjay Gupta showed his support for Charlotte’s Web and CBD, the nation has began to accept and trust in cannabis, specifically CBD. We are thrilled that recognition of cannabis as a healing plant medicine is taking place. But we want to shed light on the other equally important cannabinoids and the increased benefits from the entourage effect. CBD topicals offer limited benefits when compared to preparations from the whole plant.
Whole Plant Intentions
Professional medical marijuana growers know that the effect delivered by the strain of marijuana they grow varies by the chemical make-up of the plant. Medical marijuana breeders develop strains with particular levels of each primary cannabinoid for the needs of patients.
The cannabinoid levels and the knowledge of their combined chemical properties help medical professionals find the perfect combination to offer treatment for their patient’s condition and provide maximum relief.
Cannabis has 480 natural occurring compounds, and 66 of these are unique to medical marijuana. Called cannabinoids these are attractive to similar compounds that occur naturally in the human body. Cannabinoids attach to compounds such as dopamine, to relieve pain and other symptoms of illness.
Whether a person gets relief by smoking, eating or topically applying marijuana, it is important to distinguish between the types of cannabinoids and the resulting effect.
The Big Five
Medical marijuana contains five major cannabinoids: THC, CBD, CBN, CBC, and CBG.
These five are particularly useful for pain relief and each produces a different physical and psychological effect, depending on how it is consumed.
The cannabinoid that is most widely known, THC works on the physical body as a muscle relaxant. Psychologically it acts as a stimulant. These two features when working together are useful for the patient who needs pain relief but also want to stay alert. THC acts as an antidepressant, has anti-inflammatory properties, stimulates appetite, and plays a role in lowering blood pressure.
CBD reduces the psychological effects of medical marijuana. A patient that uses a strain of medical marijuana that is high in THC and high CBD will experience less mental and more physical effects. However, CBD-only creams applied topically does not offer optimal benefits. High CBD strains such as Blueberry and Harlequin are capable of treating an illness that produces strong physical side effects. CBD reduces pain, anxiety, and nausea. It produces sedative effects, is anti-convulsive and anti-schizophrenic. It is also effective in stopping the spread of cancer.
Produced when THC breaks down in the plant, CBN is similar to THC, but has less of a psychological effect. Very high concentrations of CBN can produce undesirable head “highs”. Cannabinol levels are most high in strains such as Strawberry Haze and Blue Rhino. These strains are very helpful for lowering pressure in the eye which is an effect of glaucoma. It is also an analgesic and helps to prevent seizures.
CBC enhances the effects of THC. THC combined with CBC will make the medical marijuana very potent. This combination produces a sedative effect, works as an analgesic and is anti-inflammatory.
CBG does not produce any psychological effects on its own. It usually is not found in high amounts in medical marijuana. Scientists believe that it might be the oldest form of cannabinoids, which would make it virtually a parent to the other cannabinoids. Although it does not have psychological effects, it is sedative and is promotes deep sleep. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and relieves eye pressure.
Individually, the Big Five cannabinoids are not as active as when combined. Scientists believe that these five also work with the lesser compounds found in medical marijuana to produce their beneficial effects.
The Entourage Effect vs. CBD Topicals
The Big Five interacting with the other cannabinoids and chemical compounds in marijuana plants are known as the Entourage Effect. Naturally, the big pharmaceutical companies create pills with one or two of the cannabinoids extracted from marijuana or make medicines with synthetic THC, but these are not as effective as whole-plant therapy.
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